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Social Security Q&A

How Much is Social Security Benefit Reduced if You Keep Earning Income: SSA Q&A Has Details

Also, Many may be unaware of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for the disabled

Jan. 23, 2014 - Judging by the questions being asked and published by the Social Security Q&A, it seems those wanting to know about benefit reductions due to earning income after filing for retirement benefits is increasing. Oscar Garcia, SSA public affairs specialist, walks through the calculation in this week’s Q&A. He also explains Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.


I am 63 years old. My estimated retirement benefit is $1,100. I plan to keep working and make $33,000 this year. Will I be able to receive any benefits if I apply?


Even at $33,000, you would still qualify for benefits for a few months this year, but not until the later part of the year.  Here is how it works.

With an estimate of $33,000 in earnings for 2014, you would be earning more than the allowable limit. We count one-half of any earnings above the annual limit against your benefits for 2014. Your estimated 2014 earnings are $33,000. The annual earnings limit in 2014 is $15,480. The difference between these two amounts is $17,520.


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We count one-half of the $17,520, or $8,760. The $8,760 represents the amount of your overall earnings that have to be counted against your benefits for the year. Essentially, you forfeit the first $8,760 in monthly benefits for 2014. 

So now you have to take your monthly benefit amount and determine how many months it would take for SSA to withhold the $8,760 in excess earnings.  Since your monthly Social Security retirement benefit is $1,100, it would take approximately eight months to withhold the excess earnings from your monthly benefits.

In this example, you would not qualify for a monthly benefit until September 2014.  It is important to understand that you must apply for benefits in January in order to have January considered as one of the months that can be used to count towards the excess earnings. If you do not contact Social Security until February to apply for your retirement benefit, then February is the first month that can be used to count towards the excess earnings. As long as you apply in January, or you contact us in January and schedule an appointment, you will be able to include January for the purpose of counting your excess earnings.

You can learn more on our website at


My daughter is nineteen years old. In her senior year of high school, she had an accident that paralyzed her. It does not look like she will be able to work in the near future, and since she has never worked she has not paid Social Security taxes. Can Social Security still help her?


Your daughter may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI is a needs-based program paid for by general revenue taxes and run by Social Security. It helps provide monetary support to people who are disabled and who have not paid enough in Social Security taxes to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

To qualify for SSI, a person must be disabled, and have limited resources and income. For more information, visit our website and check out our publication, You May Be Able To Get SSI, at

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at


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